The Russian government is refusing to allow New York-made yogurt to be shipped to the Winter Olympics, and Sen. Chuck Schumer is trying to smooth relations, Gannett’s Washington Bureau reported today.
The culture war started after Chobani yogurt, which is made in New York, was blocked from sending its yogurt to the U.S. Olympic team and the media, according to the report.
Chobani, made in central New York, is an official sponsor of the U.S. Winter Olympic and Paralympics teams. Chobani said 5,000 single-serve cups and multiserve containers await shipment in a temperature-controlled facility.
“At a time when the focus should be on our athletes, this seems to be a bureaucratic issue and we appreciate the support and efforts to do right by our athletes,’’ the company said in a statement.
Schumer is trying to come to the rescue.
He lodged a complaint with the Russian Federation embassy in Washington on Tuesday.
“I understand the need for high food safety standards for dairy products,’’ Schumer wrote in a letter to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, and Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee. “However, the U.S. government has confirmed that sanitary standards have been met to ensure that this yogurt will be safe for consumption by American citizens attending and participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics.”
No one at the Russian Federation embassy was available for comment Tuesday evening to Gannett.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked the Russian government to approve a USDA sanitary certificate for the Chobani yogurt with an assurance the yogurt would be consumed only by U.S. citizens, Gannett reported.
“Russian authorities should get past ‘nyet’ and let this prime sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team deliver their protein-packed food to our athletes and media workers,” Schumer said in his press statement.
Updated: Here’s the statement from Chobani:
“We appreciate Senator Charles Schumer’s support of Team USA by helping us complete the delivery of Chobani Greek Yogurt to Sochi to naturally power our athletes all the way to the finish line—something we’ve had in the works for quite some time. Right now, 5,000 fresh single-serve cups of blueberry, strawberry and peach Chobani, and multi-serve containers of plain Chobani yogurt for smoothies, are being stored in a temperature-controlled facility, waiting for the final go-ahead from Russian authorities to be immediately transported. This is a time when the focus should be on our athletes, so we’re just trying to do right by them in getting food they enjoy from home.
Supporting our Olympians over the past four years has been one of our greatest honors. Not only is Chobani a proud sponsor of U.S. Olympians and Paralympians – we’re also an authentic part of their training regimens and honored to be found inside their fridges. As the official yogurt of the 2014 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, chefs and nutritionists have served Chobani to the athletes in the U.S. Olympic Training Centers over the past several months.
Chobani’s commitment to Team USA is a recognition of how these athletes’ training matters, doing things the right way and never cutting corners – just as we’re committed to perfectly crafting every cup of Chobani.”